Street Fight: A Film by Marshall Curry
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Top Customer Reviews
The 2002 Newark, New Jersey Mayoral race is something most voters in the U.S. could care less about. Why should someone in, say, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania pay attention to Newark's voting issues? Or someone in Fort Worth, Texas? Or San Francisco, California? Realistically, none of them would. But Newark is New Jersey's most populated city, and those in San Francisco and beyond might want to take a peak at what's happening to our democracy on a pseudo-microcosmic level.
The film's primary focus is on Cory Booker, a Newark city councilman with his eye on the mayor's office. He's a Stanford and Yale graduate who lives in a slum within Newark. He's an idealist who's grown tired of his city's poor schools, poorer neighborhoods, and rising jobless rate. To get into the mayor's office, though, he'll have to unseat four-time incumbent Sharpe James, a man who's firmly entrenched within Newark's politics.
We watch as writer/director/photographer Marshall Curry seeks to interview both sides of the race, first by checking in on Cory Booker's campaign, then by trying (in vain) to meet up with Sharpe James and his people. But once James' campaign personnel learn that Curry interviewed Booker already, he is immediately shunned and pushed aside (often in a very rough manner). Curry's camera is pushed around time and again, his microphone broken, and he's denied access to Sharpe James entirely. Even when Curry catches up with James at a public event, he's manhandled by Sharpe James' `brute squad.Read more ›
We see Sharpe James, a six-term incumbent, try every dirty trick in the book to hold on to his office: he threatens business closures for those who put rival Cory Booker's sign in their windows; he smears the Booker campaign with bogus sex scandals; he even uses the fact that out of the two African American candidates, Booker is less "real" for having lighter skin than his. Both sides wrangle for endorsements, meet with community groups, and chase every dollar not nailed down. The kind of back room manipulations used by James would seem highly improbable in a fictional film. Although it may take place in a different city, this documentary is the perfect companion piece to Season Three of THE WIRE. The similarities between the two political environments is uncanny.
Booker himself, 32 years old at the time of the race, is all forward momentum. Barak Obama is clearly not the only young politician who threatens to breathe some life into our dying democracy. On the eve of the election, a child who has just touched Booker tells Curry, off camera, to smell her hands. "Why, does he have a smell?" "Yes," says the girl. "He smells like the future."
One of the marks of a great documentary film is that you feel you are really there. This was shot on video and makes it even more realistic (well, it IS real). I find it hard to believe that this Director Marshall Curry's first full-length feature. It's that gripping. And the lead "characters" of Cory Booker and Mayor Sharpe have such distinct personalities that, as the film progresses, you can't help but take sides.
The film was shown on PBS's show P.O.V. but that is usually aired at very oddball, times - and rarely repeated. And the 20-minute interview with Director Curry helps flesh out some of the details and explains why he became the film's narrator.
The best way to watch this film is to know as little as possible about the story before watching it. Let it reveal itself. Then watch the Curry interview.
This is one of the best documentary films I've seen in at least the last six months (and I'm a documentary "addict"). No wonder it was nominated for a 2006 Academy Award!
Steve Ramm "Anything Phonographic"
Cory Booker was an African-American child of highly educated, Civil Rights veterans, both of whom singlehandedly integrated the suburban town in New Jersey in which he was born and raised. He was raised, in that context, with a powerful sense of both pride and duty--of and to his people, his family, his mind, and his own destiny--all of which demanded he make good on the promise of his greatness.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A lucky find! Great documentary to watch in 2016, several years after Senator Booker's first run for Mayor of Newark. Read morePublished 4 months ago by BEautiful Curls!
Excellent documentary that highlights Booker's determination, courage and passion. We need more politicians like him.Published 10 months ago by K. Mallonfield
Corey Booker is a breadth of fresh air! Thank God there are still some honest politicians that care about ALL people!Published 17 months ago by Paulie
This is a great documentary that shows the reality of politics in our country by introducing us to the campaign tactics of Cory Booker and Sharpe James during the 2002 Mayoral... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Kylene Marche
captures true idealism in politics - I loved this movie. After living in Jersey City for a number of years, it was interesting to see a documentary from the neighborhood. Read morePublished 20 months ago by cerebralfun
Great behind the scenes look at a political machine trying to stay in power. And the lengths people will go to to protect someone 'like us' vs. Read morePublished on July 10, 2014 by Maggie Banducci